HC Deb 23 May 1950 vol 475 cc1842-3
49. Sir Waldron Smithers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement as to the response to the appeal made in February, 1948, by the Prime Minister to restrict profits and dividends.

Sir S. Cripps

Since the Prime Minister's statement, about 90 per cent. (measured in terms of issued capital) of industrial companies have paid dividends not greater than their dividend in the preceding year.

Sir W. Smithers

Is the Chancellor aware that quite recently Odham's Press, who own 50 per cent. of the "Daily Herald," increased their dividend from 17½ to 20 per cent.? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider that a good example for a Labour paper to give the country?

Sir S. Cripps

There is a Question on that matter on the Order Paper.

59. Mr. Llewellyn

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that Odham's Press have increased their dividend from 17½ per cent. to 20 per cent.; and what action he proposes to take in view of his policy of dividend limitation.

Sir S. Gripps

Dividend limitation is voluntary, and though I deplore the increasing of the rate of dividend, I cannot take action in any individual case.

Mr. Llewellyn

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that if he would write a letter to the "Daily Herald" on these lines, it would be advantageous?

Sir S. Cripps

It is not usual for a Minister to write letters to the Press.

Earl Winterton

Even if he cannot take any action in his official capacity, would it not be a friendly action for the Chancellor to see Messrs. Odham's and show them that their action makes absolute nonsense of the Socialist case?

Sir S. Cripps

No, I think they can read HANSARD.

Mr. Watkinson

Would not the Chancellor of the Exchequer consider the matter, in fairness to all companies—and not only Odham's—who are faced with the situation of an enormously increased wages bill? I believe that in the case of Odham's it is something in the nature of £500,000 a year against £20,000 dividend. This is not a single case. There are many companies all over the country facing the same problem, and, if the wage freeze is being broken, surely it is only fair that they should have some recourse——

Mr. Speaker

That is not a supplementary question. Supplementary questions should not be as long as that.